Orange County Receives $ 131M WIFIA Loan for PFAS

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Photo by Imani on Unsplash.

Yesterday, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $ 131 million loan under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) to the Orange County Waters District (OCWD) to remove Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) from drinking water obtained from local sources. groundwater.

In 2020, dozens of wells pumping water from the Orange County groundwater basin were decommissioned after the state of California lowered the recommended response levels for two PFAS chemicals, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). Consequently, local water suppliers had to rely on more expensive and less reliable imported water from Northern California and the Colorado River to meet the needs of their customers.

OCWD’s PFAS Wastewater Treatment Project provides a safe and reliable source of drinking water through the construction of wastewater treatment facilities in the county. As part of this new project, thirty-five PFAS treatment systems for 59 affected wells operating in 11 cities and retail water supply areas in the OCWD service area are being designed, approved and built over a two-year period. The project will improve drinking water quality by removing PFOA and PFOS from groundwater supplied from wells.

“This investment in water infrastructure will address the PFAS problem in drinking water while restoring water supplies that are essential in drought-prone areas,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “This innovative project will benefit the local economy and lead to safer water supplies for Orange County and improved water quality for residents.”

The $ 131 million WIFIA loan is expected to finance nearly half of all upfront project costs, currently estimated at $ 267 million. The remaining upfront project costs will be covered by the borrower’s funds. This WIFIA loan is expected to save OCWD approximately $ 26 million in alternative financing options. The construction and operation of the project is expected to create about 800 jobs and construction will be completed by the spring of 2023.

At the close of this WIFIA loan, the EPA announced 57 WIFIA loans that provide nearly $ 11 billion in lending assistance to help fund approximately $ 23 billion in water infrastructure, creating approximately 63,000 jobs and saving taxpayers over $ 4 billion.

A SOURCE: Environmental Protection Agency

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